Influential site bustling with brewers and bakers

Coopers at Royal Clarence Yard making casks for salt beef in about 1901
Coopers at Royal Clarence Yard making casks for salt beef in about 1901
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Back in the 19th century, Royal Clarence Yard at Gosport was bustling with brewers, bakers, butchers and coopers.

Today, you are more likely to bump into a jogger or somebody mooring a yacht at the marina.

Berkeley Homes has developed many of the historic Grade II listed buildings, built new shops, offices and homes and created new flood defences for the renamed Royal Clarence Marina on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour.

But there is still plenty of evidence of the days when this was an essential and influential victualling site for the navy.

In the bakery, ovens, oak beams and cast iron columns survive. The slaughterhouse and ornamental gates are still in place and Brewhouse Square, Cooperage Green and Flagstaff Green tell of the past.

It was at Royal Clarence Yard that meat, cheese, butter, dried fish, rum, chocolate and tobacco were produced and packed for the nation’s sailors. Clothing and footwear were also packed and distributed to the ships.

The yard continued its victualling role until 1991, when the Ministry of Defence sold the site to developers.

This picture from about 1901 shows coopers making casks for salt beef.

It was a job requiring precision skills to ensure airtight barrels preserved food and protected it from contamination during transportation to ships of the line.

The image, and the other three here, are some of more than 200 in John Sadden’s recently-published book Gosport From Old Photographs, published by Amberley at £12.99.